Andrea Estandia

Academic Profile

I completed a BSc (Hons) in Biology at the University of Oviedo (2013-2017), where I worked on projects exploring how different species evolve and diversify. During this time I also studied the effect of climate change in alpine plant populations from the Picos de Europa National Park.

In 2017 I joined the Max Planck for Plant Breeding Research to study the natural variation of the hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta).

After my time in Germany, I moved to the UK and read an MSc by Research in Biological Sciences at Durham University. My MRes project aimed to build a time-calibrated phylogeny and solve the branching pattern of the order Procellariiformes (albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, storm-petrels…) using genome-wide data. I also had the opportunity to explore whether different substitution rates product of disparities in body size and life-history traits were biasing phylogenetic inference. These results are being prepared for publication.

Before joining Oxford in 2019 I worked for a few months under the supervision of Professor Nick Barton at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria. Most of my worked involved population genomic analyses of a hybrid zone.


  • NSF Travel Grant -  ‘Species delimitation’ workshop at the University of Michigan (2020)
  • St John’s College Studentship Award (2019 - ongoing)
  • University of Paris Saclay. ‘Data and Models in Ecology and Evolution’ Travel Grant (2019)
  • Best student paper award (talk). Pacific Seabird Group Meeting 2019. Kauai, Hawaii, USA (2019)
  • Smithsonian Institution Bursary (2019)
  • NERC award to attend the ‘Taxonomy and phylogenetic methods’ short course at the NHM London (2018)
  • Ustinov College, Durham University Travel Award (2018)
  • Max Planck Society Internship Award (2017)
  • Excellence in Evolutionary biology, Genetics and Biogeography. University of of Oviedo (2014, 2015 and 2016)

Current Research

Widespread organisms that display high morphological and behavioural diversity offer a treasure trove for understanding the generation of biodiversity. Yet, they also represent a conundrum because excellent dispersal abilities are required to explain their wide distributions, but simultaneously, reduced dispersal levels are needed to explain the observed diversity. This is known as the ‘paradox of the great speciators’. Genomic approaches provide the tools to ask if changes in dispersal propensity have a genetic underpinning via genome-wide association studies (GWAS) applied to an appropriate empirical system where individuals vary in their dispersal. The silvereye (a bird; Zosterops lateralis), a member of a ‘great speciator’ group, provides an ideal system because it displays the full spectrum of dispersal abilities across its range, from sedentary populations to dispersive and partial-migrant populations. For my DPhil I will determine if dispersal-related genomic variation occurs within populations by comparing the genomes of silvereyes from the South Pacific. I aim to determine if genomic variation within populations provides the raw material for rapid shifts in dispersal propensity seen across the species, providing a mechanistic understanding of this enduring paradox.

I am supervised by Sonya Clegg from the Department of Zoology and Bruce Robertson from the University of Otago.


A. Estandia & E. Cires. 2020. In:  J.A. Fernández Prieto , V.M. Vázquez, A. Bueno, H.S. Nava, L. Carlón y E. Cires (Eds.), 2020. Chorological, Systematics and Nomenclatural Notes for the Vascular Plants Catalogue of the Principality of Asturias. IV. Naturalia Cantabricae 8 Special (2): 61-113.